HAI Happenings Quarterly Newsletter: Q4 2023

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Prevention Program

HAI Happenings: 2023 Quarter Four Newsletter

This message is being sent to local public health department officers, nurses, and staff; Tribal health directors; infection preventionists; and key DPH staff.

HAI Happenings highlights new and noteworthy topics for all things related to healthcare-associated infections (HAI), including infection prevention and control (IPC), antimicrobial stewardship (AS), antibiotic resistance (AR), surveillance, and more. You will also be able to find links to helpful guidance and resources and learn more about current Wisconsin HAI Prevention Program activities.

Knowledge check

Test your knowledge. See the end of the newsletter for the answer.  

True or false: An outbreak of COVID-19 is a category I reportable condition. 


Blue question mark

What's new with the HAI Prevention Program? 


In the news

  • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released the 2022 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report in November, highlighting the first decreases in HAIs since the COVID-19 pandemic. The report provides recommendations for HCP to reinforce IPC practices, regularly review HAI surveillance data, and address gaps in IPC practices.  
    • Looking for state HAI data? Visit the Wisconsin HAI Prevention Program data webpage 
  • A CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released in November shows influenza and COVID-19 vaccination coverage among health care personnel for the 2022–23 influenza season.  
  • On November 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication warning health care providers and facilities not to use recalled saline (0.9% sodium chloride) and sterile water medical products manufactured by Nurse Assist, LLC.  

Best practice and guidance updates

  • DHS released updated guidance regarding RSV and COVID-19 reporting. 
    • Beginning November 1, 2023, all Wisconsin acute care hospitals, coroners, and medical examiners must report RSV-associated hospitalizations and RSV-associated pediatric deaths among Wisconsin residents to DHS. The change brings RSV surveillance in alignment with influenza virus surveillance. Additional information regarding this change is available in Bureau of Communicable Diseases (BCD) Memo 2023-04 
    • Individual cases of COVID-19 are no longer reportable, unless a confirmed, probable, or suspect case is associated with a hospitalization or pediatric death. Beginning November 1, 2023, all Wisconsin acute care hospitals, coroners, and medical examiners must report COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and COVD-19-associated pediatric mortality. Additional information regarding this change is available in BCD Memo 2023-05 
  • The Wisconsin Wastewater Monitoring Program now uses an updated method of calculating wastewater concentration categories in the COVID-19 wastewater dashboard. This change will result in lower, more stable concentration categories across most sites. DHS encourages partners to use the dashboard to monitor COVID-19 activity in their regions.   
  • Wisconsin Weekly Respiratory Virus Surveillance Reports have resumed. Sign up to receive email notifications when new reports are published or view a library of previous reports on the DHS website.  

Notes from the field: Injection practices in ambulatory settings 

Medication safety, especially safe injection practice, was identified as an area of improvement for ambulatory facilities throughout Wisconsin based on observations made through infection control assessment and response visits. Unsafe injection practices can result in severe consequences, such as the transmission of blood borne pathogens and other infectious agents to patients, potential litigation issues, and more. The majority of outbreaks in ambulatory settings can be prevented by using basic infection prevention best practices.  

Resources and recommendations 

HAI Prevention Program staff spotlight

Ashlie Dowdell, HAI Prevention Program Director, has moved on from the program after 14 years of service. Ashlie has been an instrumental part in developing and growing the Wisconsin HAI Prevention Program to what it is today. Her dedication to improving HAI prevention and outcomes across the state does not go unrecognized and is appreciated by many. Thank you, Ashlie, for all your great work. We wish you the best of luck in your next chapter!

Knowledge check answer

True. An outbreak of COVID-19 remains a category I reportable condition.